Working from home as a Contractor? Here’s what you need to know!Posted Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Updated on 18 March 2019
The outbreak of the Corona Virus has forced many people into working from home which might not be their preferred choice. We’ve updated this blog with some useful information regardless of whether you choose to, or have no option but to work from home.
One of the benefits, and in turn a motivator of becoming a Professional Contractor is the flexibility it provides.
For some, this flexibility includes where the actual work is undertaken and contract roles can offer the opportunity to work from home.
If you are working from home (or hoping to shortly!) here’s some of our top tips…
1. Your ‘Normal’ Place of Work
First, the paperwork. A Contract for Services is an essential and important requirement when engaging with clients. This document will clearly layout the terms you have with your client, what work is to be undertaken, by when and what you can expect to be paid for it.
It’s important that you discuss and agree the “where” also. If the contract states you must carry out the work at a certain location, then this is deemed your normal place of work. If you work in different locations, but they are the same days and locations every week, then you have two normal places of work. This is important to know as travel from home to your normal place of work is not considered business travel. Travel associated with your work which is not to the ‘normal’ place of work is typically considered business travel and you can claim mileage costs as an expense. Speak to your Dedicated Account Manager if you are unsure.
2. Your Workspace
Once the Contract is in place and it’s been decided that you will be working from home, it’s time to think about your own workspace. Personal preferences will of course factor into how you organise your workspace. However those who are successful at doing this often recommend choosing a dedicated work space with as few home distractions as possible. It’s also helpful to establish boundaries around your “work time” and your “personal time” so that you can maximise your productivity in the hours dedicated to work.
3. Routine, Health & Organisation
Working alone with no human interaction for long periods of time leads to feelings of isolation. When you find yourself talking to the stapler you’re probably due a real talk with a real human. Don’t wait for that to happen though. Here are some easy tips to help;
- Get up at the same time you normally would. Follow the same patterns; showering, coffee, breakfast.
- Dress in clothes you’d be comfortable to have a work meeting in. Being ‘ready’ for work triggers the brain into action. When you finish work and change into more relaxed gear it helps your brain to understand the working day is over.
- If in the past you commuted for work, then consider ‘walking around the block’ before coming home to work. Exercise and fresh air are great to clear your mind and give you focus.
- Throughout the day, stand-up and walk around just like you would in any normal work environment. Taking frequent short breaks is better than less-frequent longer breaks.
- Pick up the phone before sending an email and opt for video calls before phone calls. It’ll all help remove the potential of feeling isolated.
Since the outbreak of the Corona Virus many people find themselves working from home and sharing the space with other family members. These 3 tips can help keep everyone on good terms;
- Manage Boundaries. Pick a room that’s ‘your office’. When you’re in there, you’re working and no interruptions.
- Agree break times. On breaks you’ll be available to answer questions, help set up games, etc.
- Eat lunch together and do something outside for 20 minutes afterwards. Fresh air, exercise, fun, human interaction. Its all positive; and if you’ve young kids they’ll remember the short times you were with them 100% more fondly than the long times you spent with them distracted by your phone.
4. The Technology
Working from home can require discipline, but if you’re new to it, there are plenty of technologies available to help you start. Some of our favourites include “Todoist” (an app for making to-do lists, setting reminders etc.), “Mindmeister (for project planning mind maps might be essential!), and HoursTracker (easily track your hours worked).
While technology can be a distraction at times, it also has its benefits. Instant messaging and video calling allow you to communicate with your clients easily and keep them up to date on the work you are undertaking remotely. If you have an important meeting comeing up and you’ve not used the software before then make sure to test it out before the meeting proper.
5. The Expenses you can Claim
Generally speaking Contractors can claim expenses where wholly, exclusively and necessary for their contract role. It’s likely that you will incur expenses if you are undertaking your Contract duties partially or exclusively from home. While there are many, many legitimate business expenses you can claim, the more popular ‘working from home’ expenses are;
- Mobile & Landline phone costs.
- Home Internet
- The e-Workers allowance is a tax-free payment of €3.20 per day.
- Home office fit-out costs such as a desk, a chair, a lamp a laptop, PC, monitor or printer.
- Office consumables like paper, printer ink, stationary, calculators, stamps, etc,
- There is also a daily rate allowance that you might be able to claim. This is the e-workers allowance and goes towards covering costs incurred when working from home such as heating, electricity etc. It’s €3.20 per day so it’s not going to break the bank as such, but over a 12 month contract that could add up to approximately €700!
If you are claiming business expenses in any area of work, it’s imperative that these costs are supported by back-up. Each Contractor’s own circumstances and the nature of the Contract role will of course be taken into account so it’s important that you get specific professional advice.
Get in touch with your Dedicated Account Manager today if you have any questions, we are always delighted and available to help : 1800 5454 22